An Unreadable Letter

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Woman Guarding WWII Monument IrkutskI never met either of my grandfathers; both died somewhere in Russia during and after World War II. My dad’s father had his last home visit in 1942; my dad himself was so little by then has no memories on his father. My paternal grandmother was forever looking backwards in time and, for me as a child, never really much fun talking to. I certainly never saw her as a woman in love. Not until recently, that is.

My father recently compiled the family history into one neat folder. Mental notes, old photos, newspaper snippets, the works.

As it turns out, my grandparents were in love. Photos show them smiling, holding hands, laughing, supporting each other. Also included were my paternal grandfather’s letters home from the war.

I have not seen anything as heartbreaking as this before. Many letters were adored with little drawings. All were very carefully written in tiny script so as to use the single sheet of paper the best. I read a few fragments here. All were very caring and loving, and full of hope. I started to read one of these letters aloud, and must admit that both my voice and my heart broke just one paragraph into the letter. I don’t know when I will finish reading this letter.

I wished I had a copy of this folder. I would like to find the strength some time to, one by one, read these letters to learn about a Granddad and a marriage that I never knew, and certainly never expected to be what it apparently was.